Work, like surf, is a four letter word.
Thanks to an ancient accord signed by the sun and Earth several millennia ago, during summertime more hours of daylight are beamed down upon the Earth’s surface making it possible to do a full day's work and still go surfing afterwards. Due to another agreement signed by leading representatives of the human race and the summer months, millions of human beings head to coastal regions in Europe’s summer in need of food, clothing, shelter and other things like ding repair, henna tattoos and donkey rides.
The result is that there is a multitude of employment opportunities for the surfer than can keep you close enough to the littoral zone to allow for regular episodes of shredding, while earning your keep/accruing a savings stash for winter escapism.
Keeping watch on Joe and Josephine Public trying to drown themselves/swim to the Azores in a rip can be tiring, but we don’t really need to go into the pluses of spending your entire summer on the beach. Most of your "surfing" would be done on a huge rescue board, but there will also be hot-dogging opportunities in your breaks. One great advantage of lifeguarding is you can do a summer "season" in Europe, and then "piss off to Aussie" and the summer "season" over there.
Ocean time: Superb
Ease of employ: Tricky, but not that tricky. If you can swim 400m (in a pool) in under 7 1/2 minutes you should be alright.
Hazards: Sunburn, plus turning into a walking cliché of Cornish/Aussie fusion accented, pony-tailed, Brad-from-Neighbours surfie cheese meister, aaay.
Also known as "waiting on". Catering is notoriously overworked and underpaid, and you’ll probably be getting shit off sweaty, red-faced angry chefs who for some reason all think they’re hard (might be something to do with them wielding knives…). I mean c’mon chefs, you make soups, cute little pastries and cakes, er, chef’s sauce and stuff. It’s not exactly fire fighting on oil rigs, is it? On the upside, you’ll probably do shifts around lunch then dinner/evening, giving you plenty of shred breaks.
Surf time: OK
Ease of employ: Fairly easy
Hazards: Nose drain
Bit of a no-brainer. Sure, if it’s 5ft and smokin’ out the back you might be a tad miffed having to stand waist deep in the whitewater pushing flapping novices in on foamies, but you’ll still get your chance to get a couple. Plus, it being summer and likely to be eternally 1ft, you can rack up a wave count of several million on the foam boards, as well as garnering a different kind of selfless stoke achieved from "turning on" legions of the previously un-jazzed, refreshing those parts of the soul that shortboard shredding alone cannot reach.
Surf time: Superb
Ease of employ: Tricky
Hazards: see Beach Lifeguard.
The bottom rung of the catering trade, the dish pig, kitchen porter or "KP" is still highly popular among surfers. Don’t have to be presentable, hidden out back, nose drain into the salad will probably go unnoticed, shifts agreeable with surfing (in line with the meal rushes), also work readily available. While the hourly rate is pretty crap, free meals and possibly even accommo not to be sniffed at. Main disadvantage is sharing the a room with that highly unpleasant group of humans known as chefs. As he recounts in Barbarian Days, Bill Finnegan washed dishes for a while in between travelling the world, so maybe console yourself with the thought that it's a step on the path to Pulitzer Prize glory.
Money: Pretty crap
Surf time: OK
Ease of employ: Easy peasy
Hazards: Chef’s ass
A great one if you can pull it off. A pal of mine once showed up in a holiday town in the north of Spain having never DJ’d before in his life, gave it the big un to various club/bar owners about his pivotal role in the Ibiza/London/Phuket scenes, and ended up spending the summer sleeping in till 3pm, having an afternoon splash, selecting a member of his fan club hareem to dine with, then controlling the one’s and two’s thru the wee hours to a packed dancefloor of tanned, adoring revellers chanting his name, all the while earning a nice weekly envelope of cold, hard cash. Pukka, kosha, geezer.
Surf time: Great
Ease of employ: Tricky
Hazards: getting lost in clubland, shouting "Ch-ooooooon!" every time a good song comes on the radio, excessive arm waving can also affect paddling muscles.
Ding Repair Man/Woman
While summer means generally softer waves, more people in the water, particularly of the inexperienced surfboard-wielding variety, means dings are more likely in summer than during even the thickest swell of the winter at Certain-Death Point. A good ding repair opportunist can make good dough offering quick, efficient service, timing the laying up and sanding so that very little surf time is lost in the repair bay.
Money: Pretty good
Surf time: Good
Ease of employ: Up to you and your own initiative
Surf Shop Assistant
A job in an irie surf shack is the most coveted by groms the world over — you get to spend all day running your mitts over the rails of the new rafts, watching the latest surf DVD’s on constant rotation, scoping out hotties coming in and trying on bikinis, high fiving the reps and getting bro deals on product. On the downside, opening hours often coincide with daylight hours, and lunchbreaks in any form of retail are normally pretty short, plus you gotta deal with all the choppers coming in telling you how sick it was this morning (while you were pricing the watchstraps…).
Money: Average but with good perks on kit
Surf time: So-so
Ease of employ: So-so.
Hazards: Spending over 40 hours a week talking about surfing and relatively little time doing it can tend to twist your melon, man.
Another classic. Main advantage of being a barkeep is that most bars are open at night, meaning no direct loss of ocean time. A good, reliable, efficient barperson is worth their weight in gold, and should have little trouble finding work especially in summer when coastal establishments are ram-a-jam-jam. A barperson is also well poised to receive amicable advances from members of the opposing/same gender.
Surf time: Good
Ease of employ: Moderate
Hazards: Hangovers, sleeping in and missing it, plus if it’s a "surfers’ bar" that plays surf vids and the like, see lifeguard/surf school.